Rising middleweight Sean Strickland will fight to keep his momentum in the division alive on Saturday night, facing fellow ranked contender Jack Hermansson on Saturday night.
The high-level middleweight fight is set to headline a 13-bout card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Follow along here throughout the evening for updates.
Preliminary Card (4:00PM EST / 1:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Main Card (7:00PM EST / 4:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 13: Jack Hermansson (22-6) vs. Sean Strickland (24-3) (Middleweight)
Low Output, High Accuracy Proves Successful For Strickland Against Hermansson
Sean Strickland secured another big win in his climb up the middleweight division on Saturday night, going five rounds against ranked contender Jack Hermansson for a split decision victory (49-46 Strickland, 48-47 Hermansson & 49-46 Strickland).
Strickland had a laid-back style to his fighting throughout, doing just enough to out-land Hermansson and avoid incoming strikes. Hermansson would have the higher output at times, throwing more than Strickland but certainly not connecting as much.
The jab of Strickland was his greatest asset throughout, with that strike being his most successful move. Along with his ability to defend strikes from Hermansson, Strickland also shut down every takedown attempt in the fight.
Despite securing the decision win, Strickland was disappointed in his performance.
“I fought like a chump that fight. I should have stayed in the pocket and thrown more,” said Strickland in his post-fight interview.
Strickland has now earned five consecutive wins since making his return in 2020. His previous appearance was his first UFC main event appearance, defeating Uriah Hall in July. The win on Saturday night makes Strickland one of the highest ranked middleweights that has yet to face a champion.
Hermansson was ranked above Strickland in the official UFC rankings heading into this fight. His previous win was a decision victory over Edmen Shahbazyan last year.
Bout 12: Punahele Soriano (8-1) vs. Nick Maximov (7-0) (Middleweight)
Maximov Uses Grappling To Earn Eighth Pro Win
Nick Maximov kept his undefeated pro record alive in the co-main event, securing a split decision win against Punahele Soriano after a grappling-heavy performance (29-28 Soriano & 30-27 Maximov & 29-28 Maximov).
Maximov focused mostly on wrestling and grappling, securing numerous takedowns through all three rounds. On the other hand, Soriano was more interested in striking. Even when taken down, Soriano would land punches to the head and body of Maximov to remain active.
Maximov mentioned after that a cut near his left eyebrow hurt his vision during the bout.
Maximov now has eight pro wins, including two in the UFC cage. He won his promotional debut last year, defeating Cody Brundage via unanimous decision.
Soriano was fighting to come back from his first pro loss. That defeat came in July last year, losing on scorecards against Brendan Allen.
Bout 11: Shavkat Rakhmonov (14-0) vs. Carlston Harris (17-4) (Welterweight)
Rakhmonov Earns First-Round Finish Win To Keep Undefeated Record Alive
Shavkat Rakhmonov preserved his undefeated record with a brutal knockout win on Saturday night, finishing Carlston Harris in the first round with ground and pound shots.
The finishing sequence started with a spinning back kick that dropped Harris. Rakhmonov then landed hard straight punches from full guard, with one of the shots knocking Harris out and ending the fight.
Rakhmonov now has a strong record of 15 pro wins. This includes his two previous UFC wins, submitting Alex Oliveira and Michel Prazeres. He now has one of the largest undefeated records in the entire promotion.
Bout 10: Sam Alvey (33-16-1) vs. Brendan Allen (17-5) (Light Heavyweight)
Short-Notice Fighter Allen Continues Losing Streak For Alvey
Short-notice fighter Brendan Allen continued the losing streak of Sam Alvey on Saturday night, submitting him with a rear naked choke in the second round of their bout.
Allen dropped Alvey with a left hook in the second round, beginning the finishing sequence of the contest. The knockdown allowed him to take the back of Alvey and slip in the choke to finish the bout.
Allen had succeeded late in the first round as well, hurting Alvey with a punch then.
Alvey has now gone winless in his past eight fights, resulting in seven losses and one draw. His last win was in 2018 against Gian Villante.
Allen took this bout just earlier in the week, stepping in to replace Phil Hawes. Due to the short-notice nature of the fight, the bout was moved up from middleweight to light heavyweight.
The performance put Allen back into the win column after losing a fight late last year against Chris Curtis.
Bout 9: Bryan Battle (6-1) vs. Tresean Gore (3-0) (Middleweight)
Battle Hands Fellow ‘TUF’ Alum Gore First Pro Loss
In a matchup that was originally scheduled to happen on a recent season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Bryan Battle secured a unanimous decision win over Tresean Gore after a close three-round fight (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Battle started the fight with a good opening round, landing a high volume of shots against Gore. But Gore’s power allowed him to take back control in the second round, visibly rocking him two times with shots. Battle started to focus on more wrestling later in the round, which slowed the momentum of Gore.
Battle entered the final round with major swelling around his right eye. He had a close final round against Gore as fatigue set in, but pushed the pace and finished strong to secure his victory.
Gore was originally scheduled to meet Battle in the finals of last year’s “The Ultimate Fighter” season. However, Gore was later removed from the final after suffering injury. Battle later won the final of the show, defeating short-notice opponent Gilbert Urbina via submission.
Gore was making his UFC debut with an undefeated pro record of three wins.
Bout 8: Julian Erosa (26-9) vs. Steven Peterson (19-9) (Featherweight)
Erosa Defeats Peterson In Striking Brawl
Julian Erosa prevailed in a close brawl against Steven Peterson, defeating him via split decision after three rounds of fighting (29-28 Peterson, 29-28 Erosa & 29-28 Erosa).
The close battle saw Erosa get the best of damaging striking exchanges throughout.
The first round was a close start to the fight that saw both fighters land strikes. Erosa finished the round strong with a combination of strikes that landed on Peterson.
Both featherweights got stunned at one point during the second round. Peterson first hurt Erosa with strikes, but later in the round he saw himself fighting back from a strong combination from Erosa.
Erosa got the fight down two times in the final round, although Peterson tried for a guillotine choke both times. The fight was bloody late, with most of the visible damage on Peterson.
Erosa earned a late submission win in his last fight, defeating Charles Jourdain last year.
Peterson had a two-fight winning streak heading into Saturday.
Peterson missed weight for the fight, coming in three pounds over the limit on Friday. Because of this, a potential “Fight of the Night” award to this matchup would give both financial bonuses to Erosa, with no bonus money going to Peterson. It has not been determined yet which fight will take the award on Saturday night.
Bout 7: Miles Johns (12-1) vs. John Castaneda (18-5) (Bantamweight)
Castaneda Stops Johns Late With Submission
John Castaneda scored a late finish win against Miles Johns, submitting him in the third round with arm triangle choke.
Johns was dropped in the third round after Castaneda stormed him with a combination of shots. This allowed Castaneda to search for an arm triangle choke on the ground, using the choke in side control to put Johns to sleep and end the fight.
The bout was quite close before the finish. Castaneda frequently advanced on Johns with striking in what was a back-and-forth brawl for the first two rounds.
Castaneda now has two wins since joining the UFC roster. His prior victory came against a veteran, defeating Eddie Wineland last year.
Johns had won three of his previous four UFC wins. This included two finish victories.
Bout 6: Hakeem Dawodu (12-2-1) vs. Mike Trizano (9-1) (Featherweight)
Dawodu Bounces Back With Stand-Up Performance
Hakeem Dawodu put on a striking clinic against Mike Trizano to win a unanimous decision result on Saturday night (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). The win put Dawodu back to his winning ways after a prior loss.
Dawodu fought a fast-paced battle against Trizano on the feet, landing the better shots and putting them together in combinations. Trizano was able to answer back, but was never getting the best of exchanges.
The strong showing put Dawodu back into the win column after losing his previous fight. He had a five-fight UFC win streak broken in his last appearance, losing to undefeated prospect Movsar Evloev via unanimous decision last year.
Trizano won in his return last year, defeating Ludovit Klein.
Bout 5: Marc-Andre Barriault (13-4) vs. Chidi Njokuani (20-7) (Middleweight)
Njokuani Wins UFC Debut In Just Seconds
Chidi Njokuani needed only a few seconds to win his UFC debut, stopping Marc-Andre Barriault with strikes on Saturday night.
Njokuani made Barriault drop hard in just seconds, landing a jab and then an overhand right. The fight came to an end only seconds later.
Njokuani, a veteran of over 25 pro fights, was making his first appearance in the UFC cage. Earlier fights in his career include eight appearances in Bellator. He secured a UFC contract on the most recent “Dana White’s Contender Series” episode, defeating Mario Sousa in September.
Bout 4: Alexis Davis (20-11) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (9-5-1) (Bantamweight)
Veteran Davis Continues Losing Streak For Stoliarenko
Alexis Davis returned to the win column with a win on Saturday night, defeating Julija Stoliarenko via unanimous decision after a back-and-forth battle (29-27, 29-27 & 30-27).
Davis had top control on the ground for most of the first round. Stoliarenko was able to stay active on her back, threatening Davis numerous times with armbar attempts. The fight was paused late in the first round as Stoliarenko landed an illegal upkick to Davis.
The second round was mostly on the feet, where Stoliarenko was able to cut Davis open with punches. Davis answered back with her own strikes, connecting with lots of kicks.
Davis got Stoliarenko to the ground early in the third round with a kick. She then spent most of the final round landing ground and pound from full guard.
Davis, a UFC veteran, was coming off a loss she took against Pannie Kianzad.
Bout 3: Danilo Marques (11-3) vs. Jailton Almeida (14-2) (Light Heavyweight)
Almeida Stops Marques Early For UFC Debut Win
Jailton Almeida had a quick win in his UFC debut, finishing Danilo Marques in the first round with ground and pound shots.
Almeida’s quick performance showed his ability to finish a fight on the ground. He scored a takedown in the opening minute, using that opportunity to move into full mount. From there he landed a series of hard hammerfist shots that caused the referee to end the bout eventually.
Almeida secured a UFC contract last year with a win on the TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series.” In that fight, he handed Nasrudin Nasrudinov his first loss with a rear naked choke.
Marques now has an even UFC record of two wins and two losses each. His previous fight was a stoppage loss to Kennedy Nzechukwu.
Bout 2: Jason Witt (19-7) vs. Philip Rowe (8-3) (Welterweight)
Rowe Puts Away Witt Quick Punching Exchange
Phillip Rowe showed his explosive striking yet again on Saturday night, shutting down Jason Witt in the second round with a slick combination of punches.
Rowe dropped Witt with a three punch combination in the second round, landing a right cross then following up with a left hook and another right cross. The fight was stopped just moments later by the referee.
Witt was able to stop Rowe from striking in the opening round, taking him down and maintaining ground control for most of the round.
Rowe now has two consecutive finish wins. His UFC debut came last year, where he scored another second-round stoppage win, defeating Orion Cosce.
“I don’t get warmed up until the second round, as everybody can tell. I’m a slow starter,” said Rowe in his post-fight interview.
Witt was coming off a majority decision win over Bryan Barberena from last year.
Bout 1: Malcolm Gordon (13-5) vs. Denys Bondar (16-3) (Flyweight)
Bondar Loses UFC Debut Due To Abrupt Injury
Denys Bondar had a rough UFC debut in the opening bout of the evening, as an injury forced him out of a fight against Malcolm Gordon.
The injury to Bondar was seemingly caused during a takedown that Gordon landed. Bondar audibly shouted once he hit the canvas, causing the fight to end just moments later. Bondar exited the cage before the official result was announced.
Gordon succeeded earlier in the fight prior to the injury. Bondar got the fight down in the first minute after he was hurt by strikes from Gordon. Gordon then showed his grappling skills, attempting an armbar and a triangle choke.
Gordon earned his first UFC victory through three appearances last year, securing a decision win over Francisco Figueiredo. He now has an even promotional record record of two wins and two losses.
Bondar was making his long-awaited UFC debut in the fight. He signed to the promotion in early 2021, although numerous canceled bouts kept him on the sidelines for the entire year.